Doctors from Saint Francis Hospital educated local first responders about the dangers of bath salts and other drugs during a lecture at on Monday night.
"It's an old story that has had many faces renewed over the years," said Dr. Danyal Ibrahim, who specializes in medical toxicology.
Ibrahim explained that bath salts are the latest designer drug. They act as a stimulant and can cause hypertension, psychosis and rapid heartbeat, amongst many other symptoms.
In addition to speaking about bath salts, Ibrahim also focused on training first responders to recognize the signs of general stimulant overdose so that they could take the proper steps to treat their patient, whether they had ingested cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, or bath salts.
Tolland Fire Department Chief John Littell said the lecture was crucial for familiarizing first responders with the new drug, which has been used in the area.
"We've seen a slight increase in town from our end," he said. While the local cases have not been confirmed in hospital toxicology reports (bath salts are not included in many routine drugs tests), Littell said that the drugs have been found by parents or were simply on the scene.
Therefore, when Saint Francis Hospital reached out to help spread the word on bath salts, Littell seized the opportunity for local responders.
"It's still unknown to many of us," he said.
Ibrahim said that bath salts are sold as powders and crystals and contain synthetic cathinones, which are naturally found in the Khat plant. He said they can be ingested, snorted, smoked and injected and are also called "Ivory Wave," "Vanilla Sky," and "bliss."
Ibrahim added that they may be packaged as "bath salts" or "plant food" and may even contain the words "not for human consumption," a label he categorized as a marketing ploy. He said that the drug is in no way related to actual bath salts.
The DEA declared bath salts an illegal substance in September 2011.
And while the first responders took away the crucial info they'll need to help anyone suffering from drug overdose, Littell asked parents to be on the lookout for this latest incarnation of dangerous drugs.
"We need to get the word out to the parents to keep an eye out for this stuff," he said.
Nationwide, poison control centers have seen a steep increase in calls concerning bath salts, according to the New York Times.
For more information on bath salts and other drugs, visit the DEA website.